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Lerk

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Lerk last won the day on January 11

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About Lerk

  • Rank
    Skeptic
  • Birthday 08/18/1959

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  • Website URL
    https://www.ex-christian.net/blogs/blog/208-be-ready-always-to-give-an-answer/

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Houston, Texas
  • Interests
    science, energy
  • More About Me
    I am a computer programmer, married over 35 years, with two grown children. My wife's father was a minister, and our younger son is a minister. My older son, fortunately, discovered the truth awhile back. The real truth, not the "capital 'T' Truth".

    Still attending church weekly. I was actually outed once, but seeing how badly that was going to go I jumped back into the closet. That has turned out to be pretty comfortable because people don't expect anything from me now, religiously speaking.

    I've explained to my wife how I came to understand that it was all mythology, but she really doesn't want to believe it, and I still say a prayer with her at dinner! But we're starting to skip that more often.

    In some ways, Christianity has kept my life and my family stable, and I appreciate the regular moral training about being a responsible citizen and family member, and about caring for others. I don't know that, without the "you have to be there every week" attitude, I would ever have accepted that training and my life may not be as good as it is. Then again, my life could easily have been better, and churches certainly don't have a monopoly on morality. (In fact, sometimes they're just downright immoral.)

    On the other hand, I wish I had all of those Sundays back to spend with my family doing things that would have kept us closer. I can't really blame religion for a lack of recreation in my life, as many 3-time-a-week Christians do, in fact, spend more time in recreation with their families than I did. My problem may just be the fact that I was just too "responsible", and I don't know whether religion did that, or if I was just born that way. (I know I have always tried to do what was expected of me, even as a child, so it may just be my neurological makeup.)

    Regardless, I wish I had the Sundays back, and that all of that money given to the church could have been used for enjoying life with my family.

    Regarding how I came to realize that Jehovah is a myth like all other gods, it was in church, and I was 52 years old, when the preacher read a couple of verses of Genesis 3. Having turned there I read the entire chapter and realized, for the first time, that there was no Satan in the chapter. It was an ordinary snake! I knew I didn't believe it as written, and that neither did anyone else present. We had, all of our lives, believed that Satan had used the serpent, yet the Bible said nothing of the kind. There's not a single person in that church, not a single person I know, who believes Genesis chapter 3, yet nearly everyone says it is true.

Previous Fields

  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?
    No

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  1. Hi, AC! Welcome aboard. Looking forward to getting to know you.
  2. Lerk

    My Story

    And he's not even talking about the International Churches of Christ. The ICoC came out of what was called the Boston Movement, and people in "normal" Churches of Christ considered the Boston Movement to be a cult.
  3. I did not, but even when I was a believer the afterlife idea was more "mental assent" than "vividly imagined" to me. I never thought about seeing my grandparents again. I never imagined what Heaven might be like, or worried about winding up in Hell. I definitely believed those places were real, but I guess I'm not the type of person who can really put my mind in a state where places I'm not at seem real. Even life as I'm passing through it seems more like the pages of a book sometimes. (Of course, if you have a vivid imagination, that statement doesn't mean to you what it does to me!) So I was fortunate in that I never felt any loss. And a lot of Christians are terrified that they'll wind up in Hell because they weren't good enough, so I'm glad I never had that fear, either.
  4. Makes perfect sense. Welcome aboard!
  5. I second this. Remember when Jesus got the Pharisees and Sadducees to arguing by bringing up life after death? (It's in Acts 23.) The Sadducees didn't believe that people could go to Heaven because it was unscriptural. By extension, there being no mention of it in the Hebrew Bible (aka the Old Testament), they didn't believe in Hell at all. Somewhere along the way, probably when the Persians ruled the world, the common Jewish people picked up the idea of eternal reward and punishment, so most people in New Testament times just assumed it to be real. Knowing that it was just a belief that the Jews picked up from another nation makes it a lot easier to ignore.
  6. It's not impossible that there are such things as ghosts/spirits/angels/demons/gods/minds-without-brains, but it's highly unlikely. But this I know: Even if there are such things as gods, the Bible doesn't describe a real one / real ones. The Bible starts off with "The Most High" and his sons creating the Universe in 6 days. At some point, those sons mate with human women and produce a race of giants called the Nephilim. At a later point, those hybrids would necessarily die because the Most High causes a flood that drowns all but 8 people. Later, one of the sons who happens to be good, Jehovah, calls Abraham so that he can make a nation of his descendants. When the nation emerges from captivity in Egypt, Moses sings a song explaining how the Most High divided up the people of the world into nations, one nation for each of his sons, and Jehovah (aka "The LORD") gets the descendants of Jacob as his inheritance. The LORD is said to be much better at leading his people than the other gods, who are by implication his brothers. In Psalm 82 we see either the Most High or Jehovah pronouncing that the other gods are going to lose their divinity and will eventually die. NO CHRISTIAN THAT I'M AWARE OF BELIEVES ANY OF THIS, yet it's exactly what the Bible says. There's just flat no reason to think that any of the Bible is anything other than myths and legends. Christians don't believe a bunch of it because it's simply unbelievable. I bet you never heard in church that the Most High is Jehovah's father -- normal Christian theology says that they're the same god -- normal Christian theology denies what the Bible says about the gods. So, no, I really don't believe or even think it's possible that Jehovah is real. Edit: I didn't read the entire thread before posting. I see now that you're not sure whether you believe or not. My conclusion is basically, if there are such things as gods, they clearly don't care whether we know about them or not. But as far as I can tell, every god that people believe in is the product of speculation about what a god would be like if there were such things as gods. Regarding morality, it would necessarily have evolved or the human species would not have survived. Other animals have morals, as well, even though they can't write them down. I highly recommend the book "What it Means to be Moral" by Phil Zuckerman
  7. Christianity: Declaring that hate is love and cruelty is kindness since 33CE.

    1. Aqualung

      Aqualung

      Also War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

  8. Long story. It boils down to being in a "don't ask -- don't tell" situation with one son. Maybe not for too much longer.
  9. This was me! It actually started in church one morning when I realized that nobody in the building believed what Genesis 3 said. (Hint: It's an ordinary snake!) I knew, like you, that liberal Christianity didn't treat the fables as facts, but also like you, I couldn't find anything that made me think I should believe anything in the New Testament. If the Bible starts out as myths, transitions to legends, and then to embellished history, at what point am I supposed to start believing that the magic is real? That was 8 years ago. I'm 60 years old now. Unfortunately, I'm still going to church and keeping my mouth mostly shut. But I'm going less and less often, and hoping to see a way to quit altogether.
  10. Welcome aboard! Sharing an account is an interesting concept. I'm looking forward to your posts.
  11. Lerk

    New athiest

    Welcome aboard! I'm glad for you that your husband is on the same page. That should make things much easier for you. There are people here with all sorts of experiences, so your story will resonate with many and you'll receive good advice and plain-old encouragement.
  12. Shelley Seagal Tim Minchin
  13. Ecclesiastes 12:13 (ESV): The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. To which I ask: That's all you've got? I've never set goals. Really! Oh, I did finish college (after changing my major 3 times), but I've always lived my life a day at a time. And I've always found my "meaning" in my responsibilities. I have work, I have family, and I have things to do. What more meaning do I need? Well, I know what's going on in the world and have discussions about it, and contribute to causes and organizations that I feel are important, and I vote -- so there's more meaning. I'm thinking more and more about how I'm going to be able to retire and I should have made that more important many years ago, but even now I wouldn't call it a goal. I need to get as much put away as I can, but I don't really think I want to retire. I just know that I'll have to some day. The meaning in life just comes along. I have grandchildren and I love to spend time with them. I love having grown-up conversations with my kids and their spouses. I enjoy spending the evenings with my wife, even when it's boring, because we're together. I enjoy listening to music, but not as much as I used to. I listen to podcasts in the car while commuting every day. All of that stuff is just there, but it has meaning. Largely, this day-to-day attitude that I was either born with or picked up somehow has meant that I never thought about Heaven or Hell, and certainly never imagined what they would be like. Apologists sometimes say that without eternity, life is absurd. Maybe that's so, but eternity is absurd, also. How can sitting in front of a throne worshiping a deity forever and ever be meaningful? "Meaningful" is making things work, getting things done. Meaningful is enjoying a good meal. Meaningful is enjoying a fast-food meal. Meaningful is laughing with your friends and family. Meaningful is laughing at a TV show or a movie. Meaningful is experiencing anything -- a relationship or a story or anything -- that brings out emotion, happy or sad or just deep. Meaning and purpose are found in the everyday tasks and entertainment and relationships we experience. No ultimate goal is required. In fact, believing that there's an ultimate goal takes away from the true meaning, which is found in the everyday. And after life is over? Meaning is for the living who remember you. Maybe you're young and don't have some of those things, but you still have a 24-hour day that's full of meaning. Over time, the meaning changes, but it's there already, every waking hour.
  14. "6. You never studied hard enough to understand the truth of Biblical teachings" They say the best way to make atheists is to get Christians to read their Bibles. Of course, many Christians do study their Bibles. I certainly did -- but I studied it in order to fine-tune what I already believed. I studied it with certain beliefs imposed upon that study, the first being that it was 100% consistent from beginning to end. If you start with that requirement, then you have to explain away all of the ways the authors' beliefs evolved from beginning to end. You have to just dismiss certain things by saying "this is a difficult passage" then moving on in order to live with the cognitive dissonance. But if you just read it (rather than doing some sort of directed study) you'll run across those same passages you thought were difficult and realize that in their context they're quite clear, and they say things that Christians don't believe.
  15. It sounds to me like what you're saying but trying to seem like you're not saying is that without the right kind of "experience" it's likely that we aren't "ex-" Christians, but were never really Christians in the first place. There's no way to say that in a way that isn't disrespectful. It's said that the best way to make atheists is to get Christians to read their Bibles. A whole lot of us here had that experience. We believed. We had believed our entire lives. We had things happen in our lives that we were convinced couldn't have happened without the god being behind it. And we had studied our Bibles our entire lives, but it was always with the goal of trying to understand a god that we just assumed was there. Why that assumption? Because our whole lives it was never questioned. But then, perhaps sitting in church listening to a sermon or participating in Bible class, something jumped out at us that made us realize that what we'd believed since we were old enough to believe anything at all was, actually, impossible. Your second-to-last question is important: "... what made you want to leave." While some people had bad experiences that made them start thinking maybe it wasn't real, for most it wasn't that they developed a desire to leave. Instead, we just realized we'd been believing in mythology. We'd believed in "one god" and somehow thought the book we were reading consistently painted a picture of this one god, when, in fact, the Bible reflects changing beliefs about gods over the time-span it covers. It starts out with the "Most High" god and his sons creating the universe, then transitions to a point where one of his sons, named Jehovah, becomes the god of Israel, and is much more powerful than his brothers (read the Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32), and eventually the authors (and the people of the time) came to believe that Jehovah and the Most High was one and the same. There's even Psalm 82 where either the Most High or Jehovah (it doesn't say which) takes the other gods' divinity away from them! That's not what anyone believes, but it's what the Bible says. It's not impossible that there are such things as gods, but it's clear that the god/gods in the Bible are the product of people's speculation about what a god would be like, if there were any such things. And that time when my job situation turned out well when I was sure it was going to be bad, and I attributed it to this god? Turns out that some really good people were behind that. That period of months and months, maybe over a year in my life when I was really depressed and never went to a doctor because I was convinced that it was my situation, but I finally got over it? A god didn't fix that, either. Otherwise it would have happened suddenly and sooner instead of gradually over a long period. Job says "the Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." If there's any reason to disbelieve in this particular god, that's it -- either this god is impulsive and uncaring, or it just simply doesn't exist. The latter seems more reasonable. Nobody simply wanted to leave. We just realized that what we believed was wrong. For many, it felt like a great loss. For others, life suddenly made sense and we never felt any loss at all.
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